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BARDA, Department of Defense, and SAb Biotherapeutics to Partner to Develop a Novel COVID-19 Therapeutic

On 06, Apr 2020 | No Comments | In Blog, Featured, Uncategorized | By Admin

Published by Medical Counter Measures

A therapeutic to treat novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is moving forward in development through a partnership between BARDA, the Department of Defense Joint Program Executive Office for Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear Defense (JPEO – CBRND), and SAb Biotherapeutics, Inc. (SAb), of Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Using an interagency agreement with JPEO’s Medical CBRN Defense Consortium, BARDA transferred approximately $7.2 million in funding to (JPEO – CBRND) to support SAb to complete manufacturing and preclinical studies, with an option to conduct a Phase 1 clinical trial.

Read the full press release here.

30

Mar
2020

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Agri-Pulse: Can cows be used to fight coronavirus?

On 30, Mar 2020 | No Comments | In Blog, Featured | By Admin

Bovine plasma donors genetically engineered to produce human antibodies are in the front lines of the struggle against coronavirus.

SAB Biotherapeutics, a Sioux Falls, S.D., biotechnology company that has been successfully testing use of antibodies from cows to fight diseases such as another coronavirus, Middle East respiratory syndrome, now is engaged in developing a treatment for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

Read the full article here.

Concord Monitor: Remote sensors and vacuum pumps battle climate change on maple syrup farms

On 10, Mar 2020 | No Comments | In Blog, Featured, Featured Articles | By Admin

Maple sugaring is as traditional an activity as you can find, but for commercial operations, tradition is increasingly being replaced by technological improvements in a battle against modern climate obstacles.

“If you just wait until town meeting day, like they used to do, you’ll miss half the season. You can’t do that too many years or you’ll go under,” said Jeff Moore, whose family runs Windswept Maples farm in Loudon. “We’ve got to be ready, able to gather sap whenever it runs.”

Read more here.

BDN: Local pesticide bans are a mistake

On 03, Dec 2019 | No Comments | In Blog, Featured, Featured Articles, News, Pollinator Health | By Admin

For centuries, physicians have been controlling human diseases using all the tools available to them: proper nutrition of patients, sanitation, early disease diagnosis and intervention through medicines, including those derived from natural sources, chemicals and with more recent innovations, such as gene editing.

Likewise, farmers also control plant and animal diseases using the same approaches — proper plant and animal nutrition, sanitation, early disease diagnosis and intervention through natural, chemical and genetic sources.

Read more here:

08

Nov
2019

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Portland Press Herald:Maine arborists look to shield living things from anti-moth treatment

On 08, Nov 2019 | No Comments | In Blog, Featured, In The News | By Admin

The latest science informs efforts to fend off unprecedented threats to our beloved trees.

People matter. Pets matter. Pollinators and wildlife matter.

So do trees. Trees, such as the shade-providing oaks at the epicenter of the browntail moth issue, can take up to 80 years to attain full size in Maine. The few licensed-applicator arborist companies of the Maine Arborist Association that protect these trees have a very limited toolbox to work with. Pruning out moth caterpillar nests is an early season option. Materials specified by the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry are applied through three different modes – through the root flare injection, through bark absorption or with a foliar spray application. Constant exposure to rashes makes it very tough work.

This season was building up to a massive onslaught of caterpillars. They were everywhere – and they were very much alive through May. The rains seemed to have little effect. Finally by June, when most applications were well in place and applied, with the continued rains, the browntail moth population was severely reduced because of a fungus that is instigated by cool, rainy weather. Thank goodness.

Read more here.

US News and World Report: High-tech chestnuts: US to consider genetically altered tree

On 07, Nov 2019 | No Comments | In Blog, Featured, Featured Articles, Future of Ag | By Admin

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) — Chestnuts harvested from high branches on a chilly fall morning look typical: they’re marble sized, russet colored and nestled in prickly burs. But many are like no other nuts in nature.

In a feat of genetic engineering, about half the chestnuts collected at this college experiment station feature a gene that provides resistance to blight that virtually wiped out the American chestnut tree generations ago.

Read more here: 

Bangor Daily News: Local pesticide bans are a mistake

On 28, Jun 2019 | No Comments | In Blog, Featured, Future of Ag, News | By Admin

By Dean Cray, opinion guest column. • June 26, 2019 11:03 am

For centuries, physicians have been controlling human diseases using all the tools available to them: proper nutrition of patients, sanitation, early disease diagnosis and intervention through medicines, including those derived from natural sources, chemicals and with more recent innovations, such as gene editing.

Likewise, farmers also control plant and animal diseases using the same approaches — proper plant and animal nutrition, sanitation, early disease diagnosis and intervention through natural, chemical and genetic sources.

The terms vary, but the products used to control diseases are analogous. If the affected organism is a human, the common term is medicine. If it’s an animal, the term is veterinary medicine. If it’s a plant, the term is pesticide. The word pesticide doesn’t sound as soothing or healing, but pesticides are indeed plant medicines. And there are several kinds of pesticides.

Many of the stressors plaguing these different fields of work are the same — bacteria, insects, fungi, viruses, etc. And they all have an equivalent objective: effective human, plant and animal health management.

To achieve that, each relies on a known set of approaches: identify the problem, quarantine the impacted areas so that the disease doesn’t spread, and implement evidenced-based strategies to ensure a healthy result. In farming and land management, that includes techniques such as crop rotation, use of more tolerant varieties of plants, targeted soil nutrition and manipulation of harvest dates to avoid blight or insect infestations.

It’s only when other approaches don’t provide adequate control that other scientifically-proven interventions are brought into the picture such as chemical and gene editing treatments.

Indeed, these are the principles that form the basis of integrated pest management, where several approaches are incorporated into a holistic, comprehensive and sustainable treatment plan that is environmentally sound and cost effective.

Simply stated, integrated pest management is the most effective tool we have available to protect our health and that of crops and the environment. For the eight years that I served as a state representative on the Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, integrated pest management was by statute and I believe still is the policy of the state of Maine. But several towns and cities are attempting to take away a key element of integrated pest management by passing or voting on municipal ordinances that preclude the use of synthetic pesticide applications not just on town owned property, but also on privately owned residential lawns and lawns and gardens.

This is a misguided solution in search of a problem and an infringement on our private property rights. When used following the directions, these applications aren’t harmful. To quote the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, integrated pest management “is a comprehensive, decision-making process for solving pest problems in both agricultural and non-agricultural settings,” and by using it, “informed decisions can be implemented to achieve optimum results in ways that minimize economic, health, and environmental risks.” And the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s latest Pesticide Data Program annual survey corroborates that integrated pest management is working.

We can all relate to wanting our families to live in a non-toxic environment, but banning the use of synthetic pesticides will simply mean residents will lose the ability to choose how to protect their properties.

Often a treatment plan involves several strategies. The same goes for a healthy garden and backyard. Just as physicians cannot always effectively protect us from human maladies without chemical interventions, neither can farmers, foresters, landscapers nor passionate gardeners when disease or insect outbreaks strike. Think browntail moths, West Nile virus, avian flu, poison ivy or encephalitis.

These problems impact not just vegetation, but humans as well. That’s why integrated pest management is the most effective tool we have to protect our health, crops and environment. Towns and cities should not be precluding its use.

Dean Cray is a Somerset County commissioner and former state representative who served on the Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry.

https://bangordailynews.com/2019/06/26/opinion/contributors/local-pesticide-bans-are-a-mistake/?amp

Portland Press Herald: Maine company partnering with Clinton dairy farms to produce cow-powered biogas

On 29, May 2019 | No Comments | In Blog, Featured, Featured Articles, Future of Ag | By Admin

Summit Natural Gas is working with 5 farms in ‘Maine’s dairy capital’ to build and operate a digester that will create renewable natural gas aimed at supporting the local economy.

CLINTON — Call it cow power.

Gas from cow manure would help heat Maine homes and businesses starting in 2021 under a plan announced Thursday by Summit Utilities aimed at supporting the local economy and fighting climate change.

Summit, the parent company of Summit Natural Gas of Maine, is proposing to construct a $20 million anaerobic digestion facility in Clinton, which bills itself as “Maine’s dairy capital” because its five dairy farms make up 17 percent of the state’s dairy production.

The digester will heat the manure, speeding its decomposition and creating biogas. The gas will be cleaned to remove impurities and piped into Summit’s system. Renewable natural gas is nearly identical to traditional natural gas and can be used for heating, cooking and other processes. The renewable attributes from the digester will be sold to third parties to help them meet their emissions reduction goals.

Summit anticipates that the digester will supply about 45 percent of the company’s annual Maine residential gas demand, or about 125,000 MMBtus of gas, to its customers in the Kennebec Valley, and in Cumberland, Falmouth and Yarmouth.

The Flood Brothers Farm on River Road in Clinton is one of the dairy farms that will be providing manure for the proposed digester.

“Anytime you talk about options and opportunities for dairy farmers, I get very excited,” Jenni Tilton-Flood, a family member at the Flood Brothers Farm, said Thursday. “We are challenged every day by things we cannot control. We have no options when it comes to weather; we have no opportunity when it comes to milk prices.”

“When it comes to having the ability to monetize and capitalize on the richness that these cows have and their abilities, that’s great. So I am very excited.”

Tilton-Flood said that of the roughly 225 commercial dairy farms in Maine that are spread across 15 of the state’s 16 counties, the Flood Brothers Farm is the largest.

“We have 3,400 animals we’re taking care of,” she said. “We milk 1,800 of those animals every day, producing 17,000 gallons of fresh Maine high-quality milk for our neighbors.”

There’s also a lot of manure and a lot of potential power.

Tilton-Flood said Summit will take “the energy” from the manure, giving the farm back the nutrient-rich, liquid effluent for the farm fields, and dry matter for compost and bedding.

“Right now we reuse our manure and recycle it to fertilize and feed our soil, and so we can feed our cows, and we find great uses for that; but there’s even more uses to unlock,” Tilton-Flood said. “Even though Summit is going to be taking the manure, we’re going to be getting the most valuable part of the manure back on our farm. We’re actually enhancing it. This is really a good benefit for our farm. This will be felt by us financially in a very, very positive manner.”

Besides the Flood Brothers Farm, Summit also is partnering with Caverly Farms, Misty Meadows Farm, Wright Place Farm, Taylor Dairy Farm, Veazland Farm, Simpson View Farm and Gold-Top Farm to obtain organic waste for its facility.

Jessika Hall milks cows Thursday on a circular 100-stall milking parlor at the Flood Brothers dairy farm in Clinton. The cows are expected to  become even more productive when their waste is used to create biogas in a partnership with Summit Natural Gas of Maine. Morning Sentinel photo by David Leaming

The gas company expects the digester will be commissioned and producing gas by the first quarter of 2021, pending approval and permitting from regulatory bodies.

Tilton-Flood said the collection process will involve scooping up the manure with heavy equipment from holding pits and storage space on the farm and transporting it to the Summit digester for processing.

Summit spokeswoman Lizzy Reinholt said the price of natural gas is not expected to change with the new process in place and there will be no “cow pie” smell to the product.

“We don’t expect this project will have any impact on the cost of gas,” Reinholt said Thursday. “Like traditional natural gas, the renewable gas created from this facility will be odorless. We put odorants in our pipes – it’s required – because methane has no smell. That way, if there is a leak, customers can smell it.”

Tilton-Flood noted that the aroma around the farm might even improve.

“The products we farmers get back will also probably have less of a ‘dairy air’ than the manure we are usually handling,” she said. “I believe that in some applications, digesters are utilized specifically to help reduce odors.”

Darci Owens bottle-feeds a newborn calf Thursday at the Flood Brothers dairy farm in Clinton. Cows there are expected to become even more productive when their waste is used to create biogas in a partnership with Summit Natural Gas of Maine. Morning Sentinel photo by David Leaming

Kurt Adams, Summit’s president and CEO, said the project is the next step in the company’s ongoing effort to build a sustainable energy future by investing in innovative technologies that mitigate climate change.

“Since coming to Maine in 2013, we’ve been able to reduce carbon emissions by an estimated 69,000 metric tons a year through conversions to natural gas and energy efficiency upgrades,” Adams said in a statement. “That’s like taking 15,000 cars off the road forever. Our renewable program is the next step in our ongoing efforts to reduce greenhouse gas. It’s simply the right thing to do for our customers, our business and our children.”

In Maine, more than 60 percent of homes heat with oil, which makes it possible for Summit to enhance its sustainability efforts in an attempt to lure more customers, Adams said.

“We know our cows are amazing and we’re so excited about this partnership that unlocks the potential of our farms, our farmers, and our cows to play a role in generating a clean, renewable energy source,” Adams said.

Tilton-Flood, a mother of two, said her family and farm – producing milk commercially since 1927 – also are excited about the planned project. They produce 1,900 acres of corn and about 2,500 to 3,000 acres of grass to feed the cows. There are 43 people on the farm payroll, including 11 family members.

“We’re hoping to be able to make this work for us to be a financial benefit for us,” Tilton-Flood said. “This is just another way for us to be environmental stewards. This is our job. It’s what we’ve done. Sustainability is all about taking yesterday, doing stuff today to make sure we get to tomorrow. That’s sustainability. We’re able to do that now, and we’re going to be able to do it even more and even better with this partnership with Summit.”

In Maine, more than 60 percent of homes heat with oil, which makes it possible for Summit to enhance its sustainability efforts, Adams said.

“We know our cows are amazing and we’re so excited about this partnership that unlocks the potential of our farms, our farmers, and our cows to play a role in generating a clean, renewable energy source,” he said.

Tilton-Flood, a mother of two, said her family and farm — producing milk commercially since 1927 — also are excited about the planned project. They produce 1,900 acres of corn to feed the cows and about 2,500 to 3,000 acres of grass to feed them as well. There are 43 people on the farm payroll, including 11 family members.

“Anytime you talk about options and opportunities for dairy farmers, I get very excited,” she said. “We are challenged every day by things we cannot control. We have no options when it comes to weather; we have no opportunity when it comes to milk prices. When it comes to having the ability to monetize and capitalize on the richness that these cows have and their abilities, that’s great. So I am very excited.

“We’re hoping to be able to make this work for us to be a financial benefit for us. This is just another way for us to be environmental stewards. This is our job. It’s what we’ve done. Sustainability is all about taking yesterday, doing stuff today to make sure we get to tomorrow. That’s sustainability. We’re able to do that now, and we’re going to be able to do it even more and even better with this partnership with Summit.”

Press Herald Staff Writer Tux Turkel contributed to this report.

https://www.pressherald.com/2019/05/23/cow-power-maine-natural-gas-company-partnering-with-clinton-dairy-farms-to-convert-manure-to-biogas-for-heating-cooking/

Farm to Food Gene Editing: The Future of Agriculture

On 25, Apr 2019 | No Comments | In Blog, Featured, Featured Articles, Future of Ag | By Admin

Curious about what gene editing is? Watch this video to learn how CRISPR is helping farmers grow better crops to feed our growing population.

Science makes bread taste better

On 27, Nov 2018 | No Comments | In Blog, Featured, Featured Articles, Future of Ag | By Admin

Renegade bakers and geneticists develop whole-wheat loaves you’ll want to eat